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Methadone and Buprenorphine Could Heighten Pain Sensitivity

Written by Eliza Player on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. Posted in Breaking News, Methadone

Opiate Addiction

Patients with addictive disorders who take methadone or other opioid medications for pain will experience heightened sensitivity to pain, known as hyperalgesia. According to, new research published in "The Journal of Pain" shows that the condition does not improve over the course of treatment.

Managing pain in heroin abusing patients is challenging for doctors because they have a heightened sensitivity to pain, and maintenance therapy with either methadone or buprenorphine does not change their pain response. Previous research suggests that patients taking methadone for heroin addiction are slightly more sensitive to pain than drug-free individuals.

In this study, researchers compared pain of treatment-seeking heroin addicted patients to that of a non-drug control group. They hoped to determine how sensitivity to pain may change as the patient moves towards stabilization and maintenance. Results showed that maintenance therapy with either methadone and buprenorphine did not significantly change or worsen pain sensitivity in these heroin addicts. Researchers think that doctors should consider the potential impact of pain sensitivity on individuals with opiate addiction and tolerance when deciding how to manage their pain. They also think these findings would apply to all opiates, whether they are used legally or illegally.

Personally, I think that this heightened sensitivity could also be directly related to having an opiate tolerance. The drugs to treat pain would not work correctly on someone with such a high opiate tolerance. I was on methadone for a number of years, and I still have a low tolerance for pain and a high tolerance for pain medication. I personally think that when one becomes addicted to opiates, your tolerance for pain will also shift. As these patients in the study move towards maintenance doses, there pain sensitivity would not decrease, as their opiate levels increase. I think that the high tolerance to opiates that most heroin addicts have plays the biggest role in these findings.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please contact us.

About the Author

Eliza Player

Eliza Player

I have been writing as long as I can remember, even carrying tattered notebooks with me through the streets and strip clubs of New Orleans, in the midst of my heroin addiction. I lived a life saturated in heroin until Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, leaving me to fend for myself, eventually facing my demons and coming face to face with my addiction. I have been clean for five years, and since then I have become a mother, graduated college, and started a writing career. I have a B.A. in Mass Media Communication, with a minor in Journalism. I have also written one published book, Through Both Hell and High Water: A Memoir of Addiction and Hurricane Katrina, which tells the story of those dark days I spent in New Orleans after the storm, battling with addiction amidst a natural disaster. I am the blogger and news curator for RecoveryNowTV, and I love sharing the stories of the world, as well as my own personal journey, with my readers. I hope that my words can touch others out there, struggling with addiction.

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